Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the incidence of bovine TB caused by cattle-to-cattle transmission was in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The evidence in this area is complex. It is difficult to pinpoint sources of infection for individual herd breakdowns, particularly when infection by wildlife is a possibility, and the regional variation in the incidence of the disease complicates the overall picture. It is, therefore, not possible to put a precise figure on the number of cases of bovine TB (bTB) that can be attributed to cattle-to-cattle transmission (or to any other source of infection). It is clear, however, that "cattle-to-cattle transmission is of critical importance" (Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB, 3rd report, p41) and in low bTB incidence areas there is evidence that it could be responsible for around 80 per cent. or more of cases.
But the situation is quite different in the high incidence areas of the country where 85 to 90 per cent. of all confirmed breakdowns occur. Some herds in these areas are also infected by purchased cattle, but wildlife is a major source of new herd infection and in some counties it may be a more important source than cattle.
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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether animals suspected of being infected by bovine tuberculosis after an initial test are permitted further tests at the animal-owner's request; 
Mr. Bradshaw: Approved testing procedures and standards for cattle TB are set out in EC Directive 64/432/EEC, a trade directive covering health requirements for cattle and pigs. These arrangements are incorporated in domestic legislation the Tuberculosis Order, which are under sections 32 and 34 of the Animal Health Act 1981.
TB is confirmed by identification of visible lesions in the slaughterhouse and/or laboratory testing. Animals that react to the TB skin test are valued, removed from the farm and slaughtered. The farmer is compensated for 100 per cent. of the market value of the animal.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms in England have had animals slaughtered as part of the measures to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis in each of the last three years. 
Farms affected by bovine TB
Number of farms affected January-December 2002 2,876 January-December 2003 3,127 January-December 2004 3,109 1 January-30 September 2005 2,854
Provisional data downloaded from the State Veterinary Service Data Warehouse on 2 December 2005. Subject to change as more data become available.
Mr. Bradshaw: The domestic legislation which provides for the notification of disease, compulsory testing, slaughter, valuation and compensation, and restriction of the movement of affected herds is set out in the Tuberculosis Orders made under sections 32 and 34 of the Animal Health Act 1981.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether officials investigating cases of bovine tuberculosis have the power to refer farmers to (a) trading standards officers and (b) other authorities. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Officials from the State Veterinary Service (SVS) will report all breaches, or suspect breaches, of the TB order to local trading standards officials. The officers are also notified of all TB herd movement restrictions that are served as a result of overdue TB tests as well as when the disease is identified.
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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms in England have produced positive skin tests for bovine TB 60 days after the first test in each month since 2001; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The number of farms in England that produced a positive skin test for bovine TB 60-days after the first test in each month since 2001 are given in the following five tables. All animals were subsequently slaughtered.
Table 1: Data for 2001(1)(2)
Number of farms January 106 February 106 March 0 April 7 May 26 June 29 July 41 August 42 September 56 October 73 November 68 December 113
Table 2: Data for 2002(1)(2)
Number of farms January 203 February 269 March 352 April 437 May 318 June 204 July 351 August 190 September 315 October 201 November 401 December 288
Table 3: Data 2003(1)
Number of farms January 380 February 397 March 487 April 346 May 345 June 406 July 273 August 271 September 333 October 209 November 324 December 191
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Table 4: Data 2004(1)
Number of farms January 351 February 295 March 451 April 329 May 240 June 289 July 230 August 247 September 185 October 245 November 382 December 236
Table 5: Data 2005(1)
Number of farms January 322 February 317 March 280 April 381 May 281 June 210 July 167 August 70 September 62 Total January 2001 to September 2005 13,664
(1) Provisional data downloaded from the State Veterinary Service Data Warehouse on 2 December 2005. Subject to change as more data becomes available.
(2) In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. When testing resumed in 2002, resources were concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds tested immediately after the FMD outbreak was greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, data for 2001 and 2002 are not comparable with other years.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms have gone out of business (a) three months, (b) six months, (c) 12 months, (d) 24 months and (e) 36 months after being closed by her Department after a suspected case of bovine tuberculosis. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at what meetings the Minister responsible for Animal Welfare discussed bovine tuberculosis in the last 12 months.